Siegel, Don (1912-1991)
Scope:
The Don Siegel collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, printed material, photographs, and other items. In total, the material dates from the early 1960s to Siegel’s retirement from the film industry in the early 1980s.
The bulk of the collection consists of material regarding Siegel’s many film projects. The material includes scripts (in various drafts), letters, photographs, printed material, cast lists, shooting schedules, and other documents. Titles represented include the shorts A Star in the Night (1945) and Hitler Lives (1945), as well as the feature-length films The Verdict (1945); Night Unto Night (1946); China Venture (1953); Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954); Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956); The Lineup (1957); Hound Dog Man (1959); Flaming Star (1960), starring Elvis Presley and co-written by Nunnally Johnson; Hell is For Heroes (1961), starring Steve McQueen; Stranger on the Run (1967); and Madigan (1968; includes letters from Richard Widmark). Material on the film Coogan’s Bluff (1968) is extensive, and includes letters from Clint Eastwood; this film marked the first of five films in which Eastwood and Siegel would work together. Additional films represented are Death of a Gunfighter (1969), where Siegel replaced the original director, Robert Totten, after Totten’s repeated clashes with star Richard Widmark (Siegel didn’t want to replace Totten’s credit, thus the director is credited as “Alan Smithee”); Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970); The Beguiled (1971), including letters from Ennio Morricone, Albert Maltz, Claude Traverse and Ted Haworth (the latter two frequent Siegel collaborators), as well as original artwork by Edward Gorey depicting early, unused poster designs for the film; and Dirty Harry (1971). Material regarding this film includes casting materials including glossy photos, notes, correspondence, production memos, a press release, shooting schedules, numerous drafts of the screenplay (1970-1971), publicity items, and memos on screen credits. Also present in the collection is material regarding Play Misty For Me (1971), Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut (he gave Siegel a small supporting role in tribute), as well as Siegel’s films Charley Varrick (1973), starring Walter Matthau; The Black Wimdmill (1974); The Shootist (1976); Telefon (1977); Escape From Alcatraz (1979); Rough Cut (1980); and Jinxed! (1982); as well as a project titled The Other Man, which Siegel dropped out of.
In addition to the above films, The collection also includes screenplays for many films that were either never made or which Siegel did not participate in. Several screenplays are present; notable items include include twelve drafts of It All Happened At Once ; several screenplays by John Cassavetes titled Crime Without Passion, Evil, and Gloria II ; an adaptation of Frederick Forsyth’s novel The Dogs of War ; a script by Dean Riesner labeled Dirty Harry #3 ; and multiple drafts of Tom Horn, including drafts by novelist Thomas McGuane and screenwriter William Goldman. Other screenplays in the collection include various drafts of And Molly Makes Three ; and drafts of Grid, an adaptation of Larry McMurty’s novel Leaving Cheyenne (eventually brought to the screen by Sidney Lumet in 1973 as the movie Lovin’ Molly ).
Siegel’s work in television is well-represented in the collection. Material includes teleplay drafts, production materials, censor’s notes, casting suggestions, shooting schedules, and other items. One program, eventually titled Ernest Hemingway’s The Killers (1964), was originally intended to be the first feature-length movie made specifically for television; censors deemed the finished product too violent for TV and the feature was released in theaters. Other programs present include two episodes of The Twilight Zone directed by Siegel; both aired in 1963: “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross” and “Uncle Simon”; The Hanged Man (1964), possibly unproduced; the pilot for a program titled Convoy (1965); and Lancer, a program created by Siegel. Material for The Legend of Jesse James, a program produced by Siegel, includes approximately forty episode scripts from 1965 (including one script written by W. R. Burnett), production material, and several items of correspondence, including letters by Paul Monah, Everett Chambers, Dick Carr, and Ed Scherick.
Sigel’s manuscripts for his autobiography A Siegel Film (Faber and Faber, 1993) are also present. They include Siegel’s handwritten drafts of each chapter with accompanying notes and fragments, as well as several incomplete typed drafts (between 800 and 1,200 pages in length), text revisions, promotional material, and two bound pre-publication samples. Also in the collection is a draft of Suart Kaminsky’s biography of Siegel, titled Don Siegel, Director (Curtis, 1974); this manuscript is typed with handwritten corrections.
Correspondence in the collection is extensive. The letters cover all aspects of Siegel’s career (most items touch directly on his film and television work), but his personal life is not well represented.
Professional correspondence include memos to and from the Warner Brothers studio (1939-1948); memos regarding Hound Dog Man (1959); items regarding Flaming Star (1960); items regarding Hell Is For Heroes, including a letter from Steve McQueen; a letter from Jacques Rivette (of the film magazine Cahiers du Cimema ) and Siegel’s reply (1963); a letter from Albert Maltz (1966); several letters from Siegel’s friend, writer Claude Traverse (1964-1981); fan letters voicing support for the cancelled television series Jesse James ; a letter from Richard Widmark; several letters from Clint Eastwood (1968-1969); a letter from art director Ted Haworth, who frequently worked with Siegel; legal material from the William Morris Agency (1969-1976); and a letter from Albert Maltz to Jennings Lang (1971). Also present are letters and notes regarding Death of a Gunfighter; The Beguiled; Dirty Harry; Charley Varrick; The Dogs of War; The Shootist; The Stone Leopard; Rough Cut ; and Jinxed!, as well as letters concerning A Siegel Film (1985-1991), including letters to and from publishers, rejected material, and Siegel’s contract with Alfred A. Knopf.
General correspondence in the collection includes letters from famed costume designer Edith Head; cinematographer James Wong Howe; producer Jennings Lang; producer Daniel Mayer Selznick; actor Walter Matthau; producer William Dozier (ex-husband of Joan Fontaine); producer Ray Stark; producer Richard Zanuck; John Cassavetes and Scott Hale (both friends of Siegel); and a notable exchange between Siegel and his protégé Sam Peckinpah. Also included are several notes from John Wayne one of which offers several suggestions for The Shootist ; and letters from Clu Gulager, Tom Tully, Richard Matheson, Dana Wynter, Lauren Bacall, and Ronald Reagan.
Printed material in the collection includes reviews, notes, production material, and press items for various Siegel films, including Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Hell Is For Heroes, The Killers, Edge of Eternity, The Hanged Man, Convoy: Night Rendezvous, Coogan’s Bluff, Death of a Gunfighter, Madigan, Two Mules for Sister Sara, The Beguiled, Dirty Harry, Charley Varrick, Play Misty For Me, The Black Windmill, The Sentinel, The Shootist, Telefon, Escape From Alcatraz, Rough Cut, and Jinxed! . Other printed material includes three articles from 1968: “Don Siegel: Biographical Notes, Filmography, Bibliography,” by Dave Hutchison; “Don Siegel- American Cinema,” by Alan Lovell; and “The Man with the Movie Camera”; several short biographies of Siegel; clippings of news stories about Siegel; preview invitations; appearance schedules; items by or about individuals close to Siegel; including director Sam Peckinpah; Clint Eastwood’s forward to Siegel’s memoir; and cover designs from Siegel’s autobiography; items noting Siegel retrospectives; magazine articles about Siegel’s films; a scrapbook of collected newspaper and magazine clippings (1968-1975); an article titled “Cassavetes on Siegel,” written by friend John Cassavetes, interviews of Siegel by Curtis Hanson; an article on Siegel by Andrew Sarris; an unpublished interview for Playboy magazine titled “The Savage Siegel”; and a signed paperback printing of Paul Schrader’s screenplay for the film Taxi Driver .
Photographs in the collection are numerous, and primarily consist of stills and on-set publicity photos regarding Sigel’s films. The photos depict Siegel and many well-known actors and crew members. They date from the 1960s to 1980.
Other items in the collection include photocopied researchmaterial pertaining to Jesse James; tourist and filming information about New Mexico; a synopsis and notes for the book The Sentinel ; copied articles about the real Tom Horn; background interview material and a resume of Siegel’s movie credits; articles and other items about Siegel’s son Kristoffer Tabori; poems by Siegel’s other son, Nowell; and personal financial material.
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Notable Figures
1. Siegel, Don
Associated Subjects
1. Theatre and Film Subject Guide
2. Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Subject Guide